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Home Orchard Society Forums - View topic - Greywater use for irrigation
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 Greywater use for irrigation 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 5:24 pm
Posts: 126
Location: Puyallup, WA
Post Greywater use for irrigation
I have been reading about use of greywater for underground irrigation of fruit trees and ornamentals. I was considering plumbing my shower, kitchen, and laundry drains out to my orchard. I would probably reconfigure the drains into a catch barrel in the garage with a pump to transfer the water out to the orchard. My existing septic system is a pumped mound system anyway so pumping one direction or the other would not increase my energy consumption and I'd have free water delivered to my orchard in the summer when it doesn't rain.

I read that the laundry and kitchen greywater can tend to be alkaline which would not be good for certain plants such as rhododendrons and blueberries. I think that the high winter rainfall and porous soil in my orchard may minimize any effect of this though.

Any HOS members have experience with greywater systems?


Sat May 17, 2008 9:57 am
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Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 10:23 pm
Posts: 95
Post Gray H2O


Sat Jun 21, 2008 8:49 pm
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Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 11:28 pm
Posts: 498
Location: Willamette Valley near Scio
Post "BLACK" water


Sun Jun 22, 2008 4:54 pm
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Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 10:23 pm
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Post Urine and it's plus side


Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:21 pm
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Location: Willamette Valley near Scio
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Sun Jun 22, 2008 9:16 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1406
Location: Portland, OR
Post Nitrogen fertilizer


Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:00 pm
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Location: Willamette Valley near Scio
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Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:45 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1186
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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…Interesting subject. My experience with urine has been leaving ‘my scent’ around the orchard to place fear into the minds of deer. I’d read they can detect the amino acids -- thus conclude I’m a predator! But strategically leaving my scent didn’t seem to curb them; I don’t think they’re very bright… But a dog works wonders!

Also, ‘straight urine’ applied to a patch of poison oak will kill it faster than any herbicide I’ve run across! Whereas Roundup can take days to weeks – urine has it looking sad in just hours. The only problem is the supply ratio to the target plants … guess you could ‘thin it down,’ but I’d stop short of running it through a sprayer…

As for ‘gray water,’ it’s worked well for a neighbor who plumed it directly to his lawn; only problem, there’s not enough of it to make a substantial difference in their large lawn. I’ve got a good sized ‘earth pond’ loaded with Catfish, and a gravity feed water system that brings it to the trees and garden. I can smell the faint fish nutrients (excrement) and as I feed them (cat food), assume it’s all being recycled into my garden / vines & trees – and eventually me!

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Sat Jul 12, 2008 8:53 am
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Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 11:28 pm
Posts: 498
Location: Willamette Valley near Scio
Post 
A few years ago my septic tank got plugged up at the outflow side, and juice was oozing out the cracks on top. We had noticed that everything around it was really greening up and taking off like skyrockets! That was my introduction into the power of septic juice.

Now I wonder how sustainable it really is to be putting our sewage into trenches and leach fields far far below rootzones, only to eventually contaminate our drinking water wells?

How best to go about recovering all these wonderful nutrients that spent a few hours going through our digestive tracts?

At first I thought maybe spreading such things on a grove of maple trees sounded good. Harvest the leaves in the fall for compost, etc. That would be relatively non-pathogenic.

Today I hit on a new plant: Jerusalem artichoke, grown only for stems and foliage. You could dry them in the hot summer sun, crumble them up in a trash can with a weed whipper, and apply crumbles to food crops with no danger of pathogens.

Jerusalem artichoke is one tough plant! I cannot kill mine with neglect. I never water it, but there it is year after year, and the patch is spreading. Seems like it would be the perfect biofilter plant for recycling nutrients back into the food stream.

Oh, just a side note: Do not consider eating the tubers made in this manner. You would only be growing for greenery. And you would not want to apply sewage over the tops of plants, but perhaps in ditches in the ground. Seperation of sewage from harvestable tops is necessary, IMO.

In the PNW I never worry about this plant going to seed, as the season is too short, plus I doubt it would go to seed after being serially harvested all summer long, so the crumbles made would have no weed seeds.


Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:31 pm
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Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 11:28 pm
Posts: 498
Location: Willamette Valley near Scio
Post 
Just read a good book review about the problems of crap waste, where we have evolved from historically, and where we might be headed.

‘The Big Necessity – The Unmentionable World of Human Waste, and Why it Matters’ by Rose George. A book review.


Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:49 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1186
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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This one?:
Image

“An utterly original exploration of the world of human waste that will surprise, outrage—and entertain.

Produced behind closed doors, disposed of discreetly, and hidden by euphemism, bodily waste is something common to all and as natural as breathing, yet we prefer not to talk about it. But we should—even those of us who take care of our business in pristine, sanitary conditions. For it’s not only in developing countries that human waste is a major public health threat: population growth is taxing even the most advanced sewage systems, and the disease spread by waste kills more people worldwide every year than any other single cause of death. Even in America, 1.95 million people have no access to an indoor toilet. Yet the subject remains unmentionable.

The Big Necessity takes aim at the taboo, revealing everything that matters about how people do—and don’t—deal with their own waste. Moving from the deep underground sewers of Paris, London, and New York—an infrastructure disaster waiting to happen—to an Indian slum where ten toilets are shared by 60,000 people, Rose George stops along the way to explore the potential saviors: China’s five million biogas digesters, which produce energy from waste; the heroes of third world sanitation movements; the inventor of the humble Car Loo; and the U.S. Army’s personal lasers used by soldiers to zap their feces in the field.

With razor-sharp wit and crusading urgency, mixing levity with gravity, Rose George has turned the subject we like to avoid into a cause with the most serious of consequences.”

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Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:04 pm
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Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 11:28 pm
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Location: Willamette Valley near Scio
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Yep, that's the one Viron. The book review was a pretty good read.

Here is a sample paragraph from the book review at this :

Much of our sewage is pumped barely-treated into the oceans – where vast dead zones are emerging, killed by our germs. The rest is kept even closer to home. For example, in 1993, an outbreak of $hit-borne cryptosporidium in Milwaukee killed 400 and made 400,000 people sick. It turned out the city was pumping its ‘treated’ sewage – actually only treated for some toxins, not others – into Lake Michigan, and then slurping its drinking water out the other end.


Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:47 pm
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Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:51 pm
Posts: 6
Location: it snows here
Post Another excellent book, and it's free
Another excellent book on the topic is:

Humanure

by Joseph Jenkins.

You can download it for free and it's an excellent read.

http://www.jenkinspublishing.com/humanure.html

The basic thrust of his message is that most of the world currently uses two approaches. Ours is the high tech, very expensive, not very effective and dumb approach. Flush it down pipes with AAA ultrapure drinking water. Then the sewage treatment plant "treats" it to make it "safe". This was a very big eye opener for me, as to how ineffective this process is under some circumstances. I knew about the horrendous waste of resources and expense.

The other approach is the low tech "night soil" approach. Just dump it on a plant and hope for the best. Good way to get sick and die.

His approach is to mix it with sawdust, hay, veggie scraps, etc and compost it for a year or two (depending on what you want to do with it). Once composted, it's safe. He provides some very convincing arguments and I have started a pile. Of course, it takes two years before you apply it, so I don't have any results to report yet, but anticipate that results will be fantastic.

I've composted for a long time, and see little reason why this won't work like gangbusters while saving the environment. Use a compost thermometer. This pile heated up the best and the fastest of any pile I have ever made.

If you're a bit scared of the whole idea, send the feces down the giant sewer just like always, but for pete sake put the urine in your compost pile, or dilute 5:1 and use directly. It's the feces that contain all the nasty dangerous bugs.

How's that for a first post? :shock:

Finest regards,

troy


Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:07 pm
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Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2004 8:14 pm
Posts: 197
Location: Aurora, Oregon
Post 
Very simple solution to using human waste - the compost toilet.
www.compostingtoilet.com/

We've had one for years. Takes all household food wastes except meat, bones, or grease. You need to add bulking agent such as pine shavings to keep it from being too wet. We remove some of the compost about once a year. With some models, you could go as long as five years. I use it on the garden if emptying in the fall, so it can sit all winter before being turned in. If emptying in the spring, it goes on trees and shrubs.

The big advantage is that it takes no water and the septic tank can go many years between pumpouts.


Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:05 pm
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Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:31 pm
Posts: 1
Location: Vancouver, WA
Post 
I have a greywater mini system that collects the water from my laundry into an elevated stock tank. Then gravity runs it to the other side of my yard with the fruit trees


Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:13 pm
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